Reticence: The greatest generation: takes no credit for achievements; you cannot drag a story out of them about their war experiences, versus
Exposure: the millennials who crave attention; take selfies; post photos of their food and use social media to boast and wound others.
To add a frame of reference and context, the following are the dates of birth for the generations:
- The Silent (Reticence) Generation, Born between 1928-1945
- The Baby Boomers: Born between 1946-1964
- Millennials: Born between 1981-1996
- Gen Z: Born 1996 and later
Each has unique markers, behaviors, values, consumption needs and poses different managerial challenges in the workplace.
My mom was born in 1928 and has passed away. It is a fair bet that few of the silent generation are in the workforce in 2018. The baby boomers (that includes me), are still working, albeit the numbers are dwindling quickly. We were expected to inherit our parent's estates and flood the financial institutions with deposits. Oops! That was a largely over publicised forecast as we are raising grandchildren and bailing out our millennial children.
Baby boomers have experience, work ethic, and skill sets that organizations need today. The challenge is that millennials are increasingly in charge of hiring and have a blind spot as it pertains to hiring baby boomers.
Millennials (my two children) are not, in large numbers, living at a higher standard than their parents do. It breeds dissatisfaction, discord, and fuels the images we witness on the 6 o’clock news, e.g.: street demonstrations, political protests and a level of disrespect that is foreign to prior generations.
Gen Z (includes my two granddaughters) are a combination what’s in it for me and altruism. They want social change; hope to improve the world, and maybe getting the values and moral compass from their grandparents.
Disclaimer: I am not trained in psychology. I do have 40 plus years of leadership experience and have observed the above.
I am so much less than perfect. My belief system doesn’t jive with all the other generations. My generation, like that of our parents, possesses a simpler, black & white non-negotiable set of values. For example, I believe that a corpse got up on the third day, moved a 2,000-pound rock and ascended into Heaven. I believe Elvis is dead. I believe that if you buy a tiger for a house pet, it will kill and eat you.
I am not going to debate those facts with a millennial or gen z. I am open to discussing how we can better our relationship and grow revenue. Does that pose unique challenges as a leader? You bet your sweet butt it does. Leadership skills and knowledge of the job are not always considered or evaluated. The leadership of others begins with leadership of self. You cannot truly become an effective leader of an organization until you identify leadership on a personal level.
In the book, Fail-Safe Leadership, Linda L. Martin and Dr. David G. Mutchhler, they state that there is an overabundance of manager and a huge lack of leaders. They ask “If leadership is so critical to an organization’s success, why, then, isn't there more of it?”
Could it be generational gaps? Mis-communications? Lack of appreciation of our differences and similarities? Resentment of the success of others? Fear of failure? Fear of rejection? Fear of criticism? YES.
Now, layer on the religious, ethnicity and ideological differences we all have and your job as the leader of an organization is as complex and difficult than ever before.
Obviously, there are many other points of view and arguments to be had. My point of view is simple…as leaders of our respective organizations, we make feeble efforts to form relationships and to acknowledge the contributions of all. Why? We are chasing financial rewards, personal recognition and gain, and our own careers. Can leaders be that blind as not to acknowledge that their success is inseparably tied to the success and performance of their employees?
What, then, can today’s leaders do to take right action? First, acknowledge their blind spot. There are several affordable tools that can help. You may have to be forceful with your HR department. They may feel threatened that it wasn’t their idea, or they may be part of the problem.
- DISC: you may have taken that assessment years ago. It's been updated, automated, and readily available in an online format. DISC illustrates preferred communication styles.
- Values Index: it's inexpensive and will identify what values you and your employees need in the workplace for motivation. Helps you to place the right people in the right positions. And, get the wrong people out of key positions.
- Neuro-linguistic programming(NLP) is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, the United States in the 1970s. It shows the preferred learning modalities of yourself and your employees. Allows you to design training and orientation for employees in a way that they get it.
As the leader of your organization, it is your responsibility to be inclusive and develop ways to unite vs. untie the employees working for you. Your success is dependent on that. Don’t delay. Park your ego. Take the right action.